Monday, November 30, 2009

AARNet salutes the 20th anniversary of the Internet in Australia

[Congratulations to AARnet. Australia has been undertaking some very innovative approaches to networking - first with AARnet and now NBN. Great video on Youtube celebrating their 20th anniversary- Some excerpts -- BSA]

Pioneer of the Internet launches book to commemorate historical milestones

Sydney, AUSTRALIA – 26 November 2009 – The Governor-General of Australia, Ms Quentin Bryce, AC, will launch a book today at Admiralty House, commissioned by AARNet (Australia’s Academic and Research Network) to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Internet in Australia.

AARNet – 20 years of the Internet in Australia documents the history of how the Internet network was established in Australia through AARNet. The book explores how Australia’s commercial Internet network, as we know it today, was originally developed by AARNet. It also documents key individuals, events and milestones that led to the growth and development of a high-speed Internet network dedicated to Australia’s research and education institutions.


The need for a dedicated high-speed Internet network to serve the research and education community was developed out of the special demands for a network that had the speed and capacity to manage innovative projects and collaboration between Australian and international researchers. AARNet’s unique governance and funding arrangements meant its network was always more technically advanced and affordable. AARNet has showcased how innovation and collaboration is possible and is future proofing potential applications for the National Broadband Network into the future.


Today, AARNet serves over one million users in Australia’s research, tertiary education and scientific sectors. AARNet continues to demonstrate its relevance and importance in promoting collaboration and innovation in Australia through its high-speed network, which will complement the advent of the National Broadband Network.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Harnessing Openness to Improve Research, Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

[A very useful overview of the impact of open courseware, open source software, open collaboration, and much more. The report emphasizes the point that institutions should be focusing on developing new tools and policies to support openness rather those that restrict access or require prior permission such as federated access, Shibboleth, Eduroam etc. While some applications will always require such permission based technologies, they should always be seen as a last resort subject to identifying alternative open solutions. Thanks to Mike Nelson for this posting on Dave Farber’s IPer list – BSA]

"Harnessing Openness to Improve Research, Teaching and Learning in Higher Education," a report by the Digital Connections Council of the Committee for Economic Development Committee

CED’s Digital Connections Council (DCC), a group of information technology experts from trustee-affiliated companies, was established to advise CED on the policy issues associated with cutting-edge technologies.

The rise of the Internet and the digitization of information are affecting every corner of our lives. In a series of reports we have examined how these two changes are increasing the “openness” of information, processes and institutions.

The degree of openness of information, for example, can differ dramatically. To the extent that people have access to information, without restrictions, that information is more open than information to which people have access only if they are subscribers, or have security clearances, or have to go to a particular
location to get it. But accessibility, quite similar to the concept of transparency, is only one aspect of openness. The other is responsiveness. Can one change the information, repurpose, remix, and redistribute it? Information (or a process or an institution) is more open when there are fewer restrictions on access, use, and responsiveness.

The Internet, in particular, has vastly expanded openness. It is changing the nature of information, processes and institutions by making them more accessible to people next door and around the world. It also makes information more responsive—capable of being enhanced, or degraded, through the digital contributions of anyone interested enough to make the effort, be they experts, devoted amateurs, people withan ax to grind, or the merely curious.

In this report we examine higher education through the lens of openness. Our goal is to understand the potential impact of greater openness on colleges and universities. Like other service industries such as finance or entertainment, higher education is rooted in information—its creation, analysis, and transmission
—and the development of the skills required to utilize it for the benefit of individuals and society.

But finance and entertainment have been transformed by greater openness while higher education appears, at least in terms of openness, to have changed much less. We aim, in this report to identify some of the potential gains from making higher education more open. We also make a series of concrete recommendations for
policy makers and for institutions of higher education that should help harness the benefits of greater openness.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Larry Lessig on the "culture of permission" versus Eduroam and Shibb

Today at Educause Larry Lessig, as usual, gave a brilliant talk on
the "culture of permissions" and how the Hollywood interpretation of
copyright is distorting the sharing of knowledge, culture and science.
Increasingly we are entering a world where you need to a priori
"permission" to do anything including accessing networks or sharing
and knowledge regardless of whether the underlying information is in
the public domain or not.

Larry Lessig's talk can be seen at:

Paradoxically just prior to Larry's talk, Ken Klingenstein, on behalf
of the Shibboleth team received a special award of recognition from
Educuase. I have great admiration for what Ken and his team have done,
and I fully appreciate we will need federated access tools like
Shibboleth and Eduroam for certain applications such as shared
computational resources, etc. But on the other hand I worry that these
technologies represent the thin edge of the wedge in terms of
deploying a "permission" culture on our campuses. They may be a
necessary evil, but we must be vigilant to ensure that they are
limited to only those applications that truly need federated identity
management and do not become a proxy for publishers and software
companies to control access and distribution of their products and
effectively become a tool to limit access information at our

The essence of universities is to allow uncensored access to to
information and data, not only for researchers and educators but to
the greater community in which they serve. Most institutions freely
allow members of the public to use the library and browse the stacks
including reading journals and other material. But increasingly, as we
move into the digital age where everything is on line, this important
public service is being restricted through various permission tools
like identity management or closed wireless networks. Although there
are legitimate privacy and security concerns of allowing open access
let us not sacrifice openness and innovation on the alter of security
and privacy

Eduroam, in particular, to my mind exemplifies this culture of
permissions. In the spirit of providing open access to the community
in which they serve, I have always argued that universities should
provide open wireless networks for any visitor to the campus, just not
visiting academics from another institution. Many airports and
municipalities provide open access wireless networks and I am puzzled
why this is so rarely found at our universities and colleges. Airports
probably have much greater security concerns then universities and yet
many feel secure in offering open wireless access.

Let us avoid in getting caught up in the technology wizardry and for every
application and service really think hard if there is a way to deliver
a service in an open manner whether it is a network, data or journal.
Only as a last resort should we look to "permission" technologies
whether the it is networks or federated access. End of rant.

Here is a another great blog on this subject

Innovation in Open Networks - Creative Commons, the Next Layer of


The explosion of innovation around the Internet is driven by an
ecosystem of people who work in an open network defined by open
standards. However, the technical ability to connect in an
increasingly seamless way has begun to highlight friction and failure
in the system caused by the complicated copyright system that was
originally designed to "protect" innovation. Just as open network
protocols created an interoperable and frictionless network, open
metadata and legal standards can solve many of the issues caused by
copyright and dramatically reduce the friction and cost that it
currently represents.

Hell hath no fury as a vested interested masquerading as a public